The publication of the County Championship fixtures for 2017 affords the opportunity to turn back the pages of history and reflect on two matches against each of the seven opponents that Essex will face on their return to the top-flight.
Essex open their Championship campaign with a visit from Lancashire and we commence this feature of articles with a look at past meetings with the men from Manchester. It will be the 153rd occasion that the two counties have locked horns in the longer form of the game and the Red Rose County have enjoyed greater success with 51 victories and 29 defeats. One match was tied and one abandoned.
June 2013 at Chelmsford.
Lancashire 398 (SM Katich 122, KW Hogg 58, AG Prince 56, G Chapple 50*, DD Masters 4-72) beat Essex 273 (JS Foster 82, RN ten Doeschate 77), & 20 (G Chapple 5-9, KW Hogg 4-11) by an innings and 105 runs.
Lancashire 23pts, Essex 5pts.
Yet at one stage, the match looked nicely poised after Simon Katich had been removed for 125 to leave the visitors only four runs ahead on 277 for 8. Then Hogg and Chapple made their presence felt, firstly with the bat. Hogg added 69 for the ninth wicket with skipper Chapple before being bowled for 58 by David Masters. Chapple was then involved in another half-century stand, 52 with last man Simon Kerrigan, who was finally caught behind off Reece Topley for 31, leaving Chapple on 50 but now out of partners.
This match ended with a record-breaking performance for the home side – although it was not one to shout about. Essex were bowled out for just 20, their record lowest total in Championship cricket and the worst in county cricket for 30 years. Lancashire captain Glen Chapple and fellow paceman Kyle Hogg destroyed Essex who capitulated tamely in 66 minutes.
Immediately before setting out on their campaign of destruction, both had hit half-centuries and that gave little indication of the carnage that was to follow when the home side commenced their second innings with a 125 runs deficit. In only 14.2 overs, Chapple (5-9) and Hogg (4-11) ended the game as six batsmen failed to score in the abject Essex second innings.
Nobody on the ground would have envisaged the capitulation lasting little over an hour that would see Essex suffer an embarrassing defeat. The carnage started with the loss of the first three wickets with the score on five. The total was doubled before wicket number 4 went down one run later, Essex were 11 for 5. Four runs later, another two batsmen quickly returned to the pavilion and the ninth wicket fell with the score on 20 when opener Jaik Mickleburgh was dismissed having contributed half of the runs on the scoreboard. The wicket of Topley to the next delivery ended the match, one of 6 leg before wicket victims in the innings as a series of Essex batsmen played around the ball.
Essex head coach at the time Paul Grayson was left shell-shocked.
“I don’t know what to say to be honest because I’m still in a state of shock,” he said. “Nothing has been said in the dressing room because now is not the right time. Emotions are running very high at the moment as you can imagine, there’s not a lot of singing and dancing going on. As I say, I’m lost for words. It was a good wicket probably one of the best all year that we could have batted on at Chelmsford but 20 all out, it’s amazing.
“When we started out in our second innings, it should have been a case of us batting for the rest of the day, there were 56 over left I think and we should have set our stall out to bat through those overs and for a long period.
“It needed a couple of people to get in and get big hundreds which is obviously something that we don’t do enough of as a team. I’d have been happy is someone in the top order had been prepared to grind it out with say 40 or 50 not out.”
Lancashire’s victory proved one of 8 victories for the side in the Championship who would complete the season at the top of Division Two.
The only crumb of comfort for Essex was that it was not the lowest total recorded on the ground. That claim is held by Surrey who were dismissed for 14 by Essex in 1983.
June 1992 at Valentine’s Park, Ilford.
Essex 510-2 declared (ME Waugh 219*, N Hussain 172*, PJ Prichard 50) beat Lancashire 212 (GD Lloyd 61, JH Childs 5-50) and 261 (GD Lloyd 76, SP Titchard 74) by an innings and 37 runs.
Essex 24pts Lancashire 2pts.
A season in which Essex were destined to lift the County Championship crown once again winning 11 of their 22 matches in the competition. This victory proved one of the most comprehensive successes of that wonderful summer as the county proved competitive in all three formats finishing runners-up in the Sunday League and reaching the last four of the NatWest Trophy.
In this featured match, Essex captain Graham Gooch won the toss and had no hesitation in electing to bat on the festival ground that, as ever, offered a feast of runs with its sloping and fast outfield. In warm sunshine, the first four Essex batsmen enjoyed a run spree with Gooch and Paul Prichard starting the onslaught with an opening stand of 76.
It was Mark Waugh and Nasser Hussain though that took starring roles. Waugh (272 minutes, 243 balls, 34 x 4’s, 1 x6) combined with Hussain (206 minutes, 193 balls, 24 x 4’s) in an unbroken stand of 347 runs spanning 380 balls to set a new county third wicket partnership beating the previous record set by Dick Horsfall and Paul Gibb 41 years previously against Kent at Blackheath.
At lunch, Essex had reached 187 for 2, then Waugh and Hussain added 215 runs in 38 overs in the afternoon segment of play before continuing their run-fest after tea and ahead of the inevitable declaration. By the close of the first day, the visitors had lost the wicket of skipper Michael Atherton for 33.
The second day provided lively entertainment as Lancashire struggled when facing the left-arm spin of John Childs whilst some tigerish close-catching accounted for a number of batsmen. By 2.30 in the afternoon, they found themselves following on and trailing by 248 runs. After a further 15 overs, they were staring defeat in the face at 48 for 3 but a resilient stand between Stephen Titchard and Graham Lloyd bolstered the innings. It was not until Gooch brought on Derek Pringle for his first bowl of the match that the two resistant forces were undone to end a stand worth 132 runs. The bowler added another wicket in each of his next two overs to give the home side the prospect of completing the match in two days. Gooch claimed the extra 10 overs available but there were just three balls remaining when Childs took the wicket of last man Alex Barnett to complete return match figures of 7 for 113. He was well-supported by his spin partner Peter Such who claimed five victims in the victory that took the giants back to the top of the table,
Hussain still shares in two first-class record stands for Essex – the unbroken 347 partnership with Waugh featured here and also for the fourth wicket (314) with Salim Malik against Surrey at The Oval in 1991.
This match is featured in the publication 60 Classic Essex matches available from the Essex Club Shop.